Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Cognitive Interweave of Shame


Search of memory from previous similar experiences.

In shame theory, eight specific areas are interwoven into our stories, associations, and memories. Our bodies carry all of these interwoven stories inside of us producing tightness and tension. Every time I think about the body-mind connection, I am reminded of Peter Levine’s important work that he labels, “Somatic Experiencing. In SE, Dr. Levine empowers clients to focus on the internal experience of the body. By turning our awareness to our body, we learn to let go of those old story lines and create new ones. As you review the list below, allow yourself to ponder and write about an experience in each of the eight categories. As you recall the specific experience, journal the experience in as much detail as possible, and as the details return to your memory, notice what happens inside of your body. Notice what part of your body tightens or feels nauseated. Notice your breathing and your heart rate. Notice your fearful or shameful thoughts. Once those thoughts come to your awareness, use your gentle breath to allow the shameful and fearful thoughts float out of your body and into never – never land. Begin to observe what you need, and gently breath it in from never-never land allowing the peace, comfort, gentleness to begin to fill your body. Notice the difference now as compared to twenty minutes ago when you started with the shameful –fearful feelings. Just keep experimenting with your breath until your body feels different in a better sort of way.

Layered associations of shame:

1. Matters of size, shape, ability, skill. (I am weak, incompetent, stupid.)

2. Dependence/Independence. (Sense of helplessness.)

3. Competition. (I am a loser.)

4. Sense of self. (I am unique only to the extent that I am defective.)

5. Personal attractiveness. (I am ugly or deformed. The blush stains my features and makes me even more a target of contempt.)

6. Sexuality. (There is something wrong with me sexually.)

7. Issues of seeing and being seen. (The urge to escape from the eyes before which we have been exposed. The wish for a hole to open up and swallow me.)

8. Wishes and fears about closeness. (The sense of being shorn from all humanity. A feeling that one is unlovable. The wish to be left alone forever.)

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